Decision-making for unmanned aerial vehicle operation in icing conditions

S. F. Armanini, M. Polak, J. E. Gautrey, A. Lucas, J. F. Whidborne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


With the increased use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for civil and commercial applications, there is a strong demand for new regulations and technology that will eventually permit for the integration of UAS in unsegregated airspace. This requires new technology to ensure sufficient safety and a smooth integration process. The absence of a pilot on board a vehicle introduces new problems that do not arise in manned flight. One challenging and safety-critical issue is flight in known icing conditions. Whereas in manned flight, dealing with icing is left to the pilot and his appraisal of the situation at hand; in unmanned flight, this is no longer an option and new solutions are required. To address this, an icing-related decision-making system (IRDMS) is proposed. The system quantifies in-flight icing based on changes in aircraft performance and measurements of environmental properties, and evaluates what the effects on the aircraft are. Based on this, it determines whether the aircraft can proceed, and whether and which available icing protection systems should be activated. In this way, advice on an appropriate response is given to the operator on the ground, to ensure safe continuation of the flight and avoid possible accidents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-675
Number of pages13
JournalCEAS Aeronautical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Aircraft icing
  • Decision-making
  • Ice detection
  • Unmanned aerial system

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